Monday, October 29, 2012

Rural libraries facing budget concerns; residents depend on them for several services

Rural people often depend on local libraries for various services, including free Internet access and as a place to host events. But in the face of a slew of budget cuts and financial strain, many are being forced to reduce staff, cut operating hours or even close branches. (Joplin Globe photo by T. Rob Brown: Seneca Public Library branch manager reads to children)

Marcia Warner, former president of the Public Library Association, told Roger McKinney of the The Joplin Globe in Missouri that "when towns have to choose between funding police and fire department or libraries, libraries often lose." This, despite the fact that rural libraries are doing everything from holding reading groups for toddlers, to teaching seniors how to use new media. "There's that lifelong learning piece, and libraries are the ones helping to do that," Warner told McKinney.

McKinney tells the story of a community that realized that before it was too late. The Seneca Public Library in Seneca, Mo., a branch of the Neosho-Newton County Library, was slated for closure when residents rallied, keeping the facility open through June so the library system could buy some time and search for other funding. Losing the library would be a great loss for the community, many residents told McKinney. (Read more)

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